PS Audio's Forthcoming Statement Amplifier

With its forthcoming BHK Signature 250 amplifier ($7500), PS Audio's Paul McGowan (above) has stepped outside his own self-imposed price point box. By inviting his longtime friend and colleague, Bascom H. King (Constellation, Infinity, Infinity class-A, Conrad-Johnson, and Marantz), to create his magnum opus without regard to price, his goal was to make, in his own words, "one of the top five amplifiers in the world."

Hyperbole check. In earlier blogs, I wrote about D'Agostino and Soulution monoblocks that cost $55,000 and $150,000/pair, respectively. King intends to match these with a fully balanced (input to output) stereo amplifier that that mates a triode front end with all-MOSFET circuitry, costs far, far less, and promises 250Wpc into 8 ohms and 400Wpc into 4.

"This is the opposite of what we've done in the past," McGowan told me. "After two years spent trying to design an amp, I gave up and hired Bascom. His only restriction was that his amp had to fit into a P-10 chassis. Everything else was his call. We usually do a lot of surface mounting because it's cheaper, but here, everything is through-hole because Bascom asked for it. That includes vacuum tubes on the front end. We've never before put a fire bottle into a product."

Those "fire bottles," the less-than-incendiary McGowan noted, have been put in an accessible location because he expected that people would want to replace them. Having said that, he pointed out that while the amp was originally voiced to use extremely rare 6H23 NOS tubes, the Gold Lion 6922 gold pin Russian tubes they're using instead actually sound better.

McGowan is shown kneeling in front of the amp, one of whose two transformers—the larger one used just for the tubes—can be seen in the open chassis. Tube and MOSFET stages are completely isolated, with tubes turned off in standby, and everything else allowed to idle at 80–100W. 15 minutes warm-up is ideal for the class-A/B output stage, which runs in class-A for the first 20W. The amps also come in a Bascom A. King Signature 300 mono version ($7499/each).

The BHK Signature 250 amplifier will be on active display at the Munich High-End Show, which yours truly will cover for Stereophile. Amps go to early adopters in March, with their feedback contributing to a final US release in June. First US consumer show showing: Rocky Mountain Audio Fest 2015. Count me eager to take a listen.